A missed opportunity for dialogue
Last year in March DC Councilman Trayon White Sr. said in a video during a snowstorm:
“Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation,” he says. “And D.C. keep talking about, ‘We a resilient city.’ And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”
It’s a common antisemitic smear claiming that Jews control the weather and plenty of the usual faces came out to defend him including left-wing Jewish groups who said this was an opportunity to educate rather than punish. My gut reaction to this was: Screw him. He’s a grown man, and an elected official, you shouldn’t have to explain that the Jews don’t ACTUALLY control the weather.
One disinterested visit to the Holocaust museum in DC later, it seems confirmed that not only does Mr. White harbor antisemitic beliefs (likely not limited to the meteorological) he also wasn’t very interested in learning anything new.
So when Lara Kollab’s tweets about how she’d give Jewish patients the wrong medication were publicized, my initial reaction was the same: Screw her, she should be fired. It was equal parts anger and indignation. I even tweeted within moments of seeing the comments.
But after thinking about it I struggle to find a purpose for her being fired. Would she learn a lesson? Sure, but that lesson likely wouldn’t be that Jews aren’t as bad as she apparently thinks they. A few days later she was indeed fired from her job at an Ohio medical center likely doing nothing to change what she already thinks about Jews.
I’m left here thinking that this was a missed opportunity. Unlike Councilman White who is an adult, She is a young woman who made this particular comment as an even younger woman. While they are hateful and antisemitic, I can sympathize with the kind of passion for political causes that might lead one to express, albeit so poorly, on social media.
I can’t begin to explain how many posts I have either refrained from hitting “publish” on or hastily deleted after thinking about them for a moment. From the banal comments about my life and my day, to political comments that might be read out of context, to the comments that are fueled by pure emotion such as the ones following terror attacks. Kollab claimed as much in an apology she released following her firing.
I can’t say that I have ever posted something as remotely hateful as she did between 2011 to 2017 but the fuel for such thoughts has certainly been there. It could be that she only released an apology in an attempt to save her professional career. But what if she actually means what she says in the apology?
What’s the harm in taking the chance that she’s being sincere?
What if, instead of punishing a young woman at the start of her career for a tweet from 2011, we took the opportunity to introduce her to another aspect of the conflict? What if she met a local Jewish community center? What if she was offered to work in an Israeli hospital? The opportunities for more dialogue are vast (seeing as how she suddenly finds herself with a lot more free time). What if she didn’t have to remember this as the day the Jews got her fired? I’m sure this incident played into the minds of many as the global Jewish conspiracy that a DC councilman believes can also control the weather.
This could just have very well been a moment for more understanding. I don’t think anyone would expect her to suddenly become a zionist, but she certainly could have championed the Palestinian cause with more humane understanding of the other side of the conflict.
Israel is famous for its medical technology; when there is a natural disaster we are famous for deploying the kind of field hospitals that other nations can only dream about. What if Ms. Kollab had been invited to a hospital in Jerusalem and met Jewish doctors who treat Arabs and Jews alike? Doctors who have saved the lives of terrorists who had killed Jews hours before? This could have very well been a learning experience for this young woman and an opportunity to bridge the divide that left her stranded on the side of hate.
It could also be that nothing might change in her mind, that at the end, she’d still hate Israel, hate the settlements, and maybe just Jews in general. But then at least we could say that we tried. It seems like we might never know.
Kollab has been fired from her job at an Ohio medical center, but still retains her license to practice medicine in Ohio, but now some are moving to take that away too. I can only stand here in shock at how quickly everyone has been enveloped in a scorched earth campaign against the girl. What will that accomplish? I can only stand here marveling at how easy it would have been to try to help her understand a little bit better.
How easy it could have been, and we didn’t even try.